Performance: A Deceptive History


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art History & Archaeology


"Performance: A Deceptive History" radically reshapes our understanding of performance by offering the first archival account of its constitutive moment: the 1970s. The book argues that performance—as both a distinct artistic form and its surrounding discourses—emerged as a consequence of period-specific anxieties about the legibility of affective labor. The decade saw a rapidly expanding service economy conscript the manufacture and management of workers’ feelings and personalities into a greater proportion of waged labor than ever before. Artists at the varied intersections of Blackness, queerness, and femininity were the vanguard, both artistic and political, in theorizing the gendered and racialized dynamics of this shift. Their performance work, the book reveals, gave form to one of contemporary racial capitalism’s most enduring social problems.